Culdcept SAGA Review for Xbox 360 (X360)

Culdcept SAGA Review for Xbox 360 (X360)

Cards from Asgard

Culdcept SAGA from Namco Bandai utilizes elements from traditional card collection games and board games to make a rather compelling fusion. This mix makes for a very interesting variant on an otherwise familiar and crowded genre. Moreover, the crisp graphics, hand drawn art work, layered strategic play, and online capabilities make this title a must buy for anyone who enjoys card and board games.

Culdcept SAGA screenshot

Culdcept SAGA follows the life of a poor, young peasant who has the ability to use the ancient lithograph relics of the Culdcept. In other words, he can use magical cards to kick butt. The boy doesn’t know this, however, and it isn’t until he is sold into slavery for the sake of his village that he becomes aware of his remarkable ability. He is a Cepter, and his journey will be fraught with challenges that will pit him against the Dark Priest Sapphius.

Cepters are able to collect potent magical cards to best others. Cepters were meant to maintain balance in the world, but they are presently considered to be more akin to ruffians, circus freaks, and performers. In fact, one of the boy’s first challenges will be to scale to the heights of the coliseum as an enslaved gladiator while the Dark Priest plots world domination. Sadly, the story is only moderately engaging due to its somewhat convoluted and trite plot. Fortunately, the gameplay trumps the story and makes the title worthwhile for any board game buff.

Your Cepter will start out with a meager deck of cards (known as Books in the world of Asgard) that were given to him by the mysterious Faustina. There are nearly 500 cards in all that can be acquired throughout his journey. These cards are divided into three categories: Creature cards, Item cards, and Spell cards. Creature cards allow him to summon creatures to protect specific territories on the board or to attack lands held by another Cepter. Item cards are used to modify the abilities of summoned creatures before going into battle. They are divided into weapons, armor, tools, and scrolls. Spell cards are used by your Cepter at the beginning of the round. Spells can have either beneficial or negative effects to the board, the creatures, the Cepters or the die rolls. Some spells have an instantaneous effect, and others function for a specific length of time. They can also be used for single or multiple targets depending on how powerful the Spell card is.

Culdcept SAGA screenshot

Cards are also categorized by rarity. There are Normal, Strange, Rare, and Extra Rare cards that can be found by winning battles against other Cepters and fulfilling certain objectives. The better your Books are, the easier it will be to draw cards from them that will help you dominate the game board. By controlling the game board you will be able to garner magical points. Every board has a magical point total that must be met before your Cepter can be declared victorious. The more territory you own, the more gold you will collect and the more magic points you will accrue.

It sounds kind of like Monopoly doesn’t it? The similarities don’t stop there. You can also improve your lands to increase the value of the square. It’s like buying houses or hotels. If the competition lands on your square, they must pay a toll or challenge you to a creature duel in an attempt to claim your land for their own. Furthermore, every time you pass through a fort or the main castle you will be given point bonuses. This is akin to passing Go. Finally, the more land tiles you control of one color, the better your summoned creatures will perform. This is called building a chain, and the benefits to be had from chaining are similar to those from owning all three properties of a particular color in Monopoly. Don’t be worried; this game uses these Monopoly concepts to its advantage not to its detriment. It won’t actually feel like you’re playing Monopoly.

Culdcept SAGA screenshot

The layout of the game boards changes with every new challenge. That’s nice because it makes every encounter feel fresh. However, the game boards will always be divided up into Regular Land Types and Special Land Types. Regular Land Types are elemental land tiles that have a characteristic that may be beneficial to specific summoned creatures. These land types are categorized by the attributes of Fire, Water, Air, Earth, Neutral, or Multi-Attribute. Special Land Types are characterized by improvements.

Culdcept SAGA screenshot

There are thirteen Special Land Types including Castles, Temples, Fortune Tellers, Forts, Bridges, Fountains, Shrines, Warps, and Morphing Spaces. All of these structures and improvements have special attributes that will either aid or hinder your advance. If you land in a fort or a castle you’ll be able to make terrain modifications to any tile you own so long as you have enough gold. This essentially changes the character of the board on the fly. No two games will ever be the same.

There are so many possible combinations and permutations that this game affords that it is impossible to list them all. Just know that it is beneficial to summon creatures of a specific elemental alignment to the appropriate tile. Putting friendly creatures next to each other will give you strength bonuses, and constantly improving and reinforcing your lands whenever you can afford to will bring you success. There really is a lot more strategy to be found in this title, but you’ll have to discover the finer points on your own.

Other than the very good single player mode, there is also Versus and Online play. That means you can play against friends in your living room or take them on via Xbox LIVE with their full complement of Books. Versus mode and online play are virtually identical with the exception that winning online matches will actually give you points that will be put toward the LIVE leader boards.

Whether Online or in Versus mode, your friends can come over with a memory card unit that has all of their created Cepters, Books, and maps. You’ll then be able to play on any unlocked map with the game rules and parameters that you decide. Multiplayer battles are fully customizable and as a result feel quite different then the single player campaign. One interesting difference is the ability to make alliances with your friends before the match begins. By forming an alliance you’ll actually be able to win by combining your magic totals with that of your teammates’. If any of you should land on another allies’ territory you won’t have to pay the toll. This co-op aspect makes for a lot of fun, and acts as a good handicap for more advanced players.

The graphics in this title are quite good. Everything looks amazingly shiny and crisp. The hand drawn card art work is pretty special. A lot of effort went in to making Culdcept SAGA look great. The voiceover work on the other hand is bad. However, the ridiculously stilted and unnatural line delivery may actually appeal to hardcore fans of the genre. For me it seems unpolished and silly. The music is pleasant though and you will probably find yourself whistling the tunes around the house.

Culdcept SAGA screenshot

The controls are very straightforward. In fact, there are only a few buttons you’ll have to press. There is a bit of a learning curve to in-game menu navigation, however. Moreover, the incessant confirmation screens during every turn are enough to drive you crazy. “Yes, I want to use that spell!” “Of course I want to summon the blue ogre; that’s why I selected it!” Other than these small technical issues, the game plays smoothly.

Culdcept SAGA is a unique card collection board game that will appeal to more gamers than just the usual suspects. However, if you typically hate this kind of game, then Culdcept SAGA will not convert you. For the rest of you, it is a game that is full of depth, strategy, and appeal. The multiplayer features really add to the title and the prospect of downloadable content should keep us playing for a long time to come.

The visuals are crisp and clean. The hand drawn art work is great. 3.6 Control
Controls don’t factor in much due to their extreme simplicity, but menu navigation and in-game confirmation screens are a bit annoying. 3.1 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
The music is ok, but the writing and the delivery of the lines is crude. 4.2 Play Value
This is a great board game that plays well on a console. 4.0 Overall Rating – Great
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.

Game Features:

  • Unique gameplay: Combining the best of the most intriguing board games and the depth of collectible card games, Culdcept SAGA takes you on an unparalleled adventure of fun and competitive strategy.
  • Collectible cards: With over 470 beautifully hand-illustrated cards, there is never just one card that is perfect for every scenario. The impact of your move will depend on the combination of cards you use.
  • Customizable books: Build your card books with up to 50 cards in each of 16 books, and ready them for battle.
  • Dynamic maps: Unique, dynamic maps change and come to life guaranteeing a different experience every time you play.
  • Multiplayer: Go multiplayer with up to three other players and battle it out with your card collection against theirs, complete with voice chat.
  • Screen Resolution: Up to 1080p (Full HDTV, Widescreen).

  • To top